Obama is focusing his re-election campaign on the strength of his foreign policy, as he should. The majority of American voters are woefully ignorant of foreign affairs, but most understand the need for a strong leader, and recognize the President’s competency in that arena.
It is true that Obama’s greatest asset was simply that he followed George Bush into office, who was the most unpopular U.S. president abroad, but he has proven his adeptness. His practical and cautious approach prove that he hasn’t forgotten a lesson most of us learn when we are five: that words have consequences, and the ramifications of rhetoric can sometimes be massive.
Contrast that to the words of the current GOP nominees. Mitt Romney has called the Iranian government “the greatest threat since Nazi Germany,” and joins Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum in calling the closure of the Straight of Hormuz “an act of war” deserving of military retribution.
The three candidates also expressed glee at the idea of Fidel Castro’s death, with Ginrich going so far as to say he would use covert military operations to force a take-down of the Castro regime.
Fewer voters see Cuba as a threat to American democracy, and view the continued embargo of a potential tourist hot spot and economic opportunity as unnecessary. The policy of threats and sanctions is becoming outdated, much like the staunch pro-Israel stance taken by most of the GOP candidates. The hard-line refusal to compromise might serve them well in Congress, where they hold a majority, but in the international community, a refusal to consider the interests of others can be deadly.
The days are gone when military might alone can guarantee safety. Obama appreciates the power of relationships, which is a helpful supplement to power of arms. With our armed forces already stretched thin across the globe, the Republican musings of increased involvement in multiple countries seems fantastical.
Ron Paul is the only candidate who seems to understand that U.S. military power is limited. “We don’t have to use force and intimidation to overthrow governments,” Paul said at Monday night’s debate in Florida.
Unfortunately for Paul, his views on domestic issues are too far out there for mainstream voters, particularly his expressed desire to cut five Cabinet-level agencies, including the Departments of Energy and Education. While his plans are extreme compared to his counterparts, they share a disdain for government “intrusion” into daily life (except when it comes to reproductive and marital issues.)
All of the candidates are pro-life, and everyone but Paul has argued against same-sex marriage; two non-issues that only serve to alienate the masses. While the GOP would use their power to restrict the rights of citizens, Obama’s “over-reach” has been to help a flailing economy.
Obama’s economic policies may have not been as measurably effective as he intended or planned; likewise with his attempt at health care reform. There are two key words there: plan and attempt. The president has plans which he has used to attempt to solve problems we face that are reducing the quality of life for Americans.
The Republicans have responded by blocking any legislation and refusing to compromise on the issues. They tout their refusal to work together as “sticking to their values.” Is this supposed to be a positive trait?
We learned as children that we should try to understand people who are different from us. By seriously considering an opposing worldview to our own, we expand our horizons and allow for the possibility of progress. Obama has shown that he has not forgotten this valuable lesson, demonstrated by his efforts at home and abroad.
If the goal is truly a better country, a better world, and ultimately, a better life as an individual, Obama is the right choice. He may not be perfect, but at least he’s trying.